West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 7/15/22

So I, like many of you, saw Thor: Love and Thunder 2 weeks ago, and I’ve got some thoughts. At the end of the day, it was a serviceable film, but because we now have an embarrassment of riches in terms of Marvel content, it didn’t feel special. It didn’t feel like a *blockbuster event*. It was afraid to spend time in its emotional beats, instead undercutting most of them with a joke. I don’t think you ever feel the gravity of Jane’s cancer diagnosis, seeing as how Thor is too busy dealing with a jealous weapon or riding said weapon like a witch rides a broomstick.

I also felt that the movie kinda muddled the MCU’s deity structure, which I thought was one of the things Eternals had set up rather interestingly. I wrote a whole lot about how that model sort of undercut the Judeo-Christian concept in the MCU, but nobody really seemed to care about that. “Th4r” (seriously, why wasn’t it stylized like that?) instead raised more questions. Who created the gods? IF there’s no Eternal Reward, then how is there Valhalla? Plus, it feels like gods, like people, run the gamut between being good and being shitty. Gorr had a shitty god. Zeus? Kind of a shitty god. But these are just examples, and don’t necessarily have to be the norm. Was Gorr killing the gods because they *all* deserved it or, like folks say about cops, did a “few bad apples” spoil the bunch?

Speaking of Gorr, he was great. I think Christian Bale did a great job there, and he had clear motivations. Still, what could have been a genuinely creepy Big Bad got lost in the wackiness of the movie. As I’ve said online, I’m conflicted because I do enjoy what Taika Waititi has brought to the Thor franchise, but I feel bad for anyone looking for the “real” Thor. I find even I long for the nobility of the Branagh Thor and not this goofy himbo with an identity crisis. Plus, there’s no real comic run to direct people towards who love these movies. Sure, this one adapted parts of the Jason Aaron run, but the *tone* is completely different.

I think another thing going against it is a problem that all Phase 4 MCU films seem to have: they’re rudderless. They’re all serviceable, but where are they going? We saw Thanos at the end of Avengers, and we KNEW the shit was going down eventually. At this point, we’ve got the 10 rings sending a signal….somewhere. Dr Strange and Clea just went…somewhere. Dan Whitman got a sword and Blade was talking to him from…somewhere. And now it seems like maybe there’s a godwar on the horizon? Kevin Feige has said the “destination” would become more clear in the coming months, but I’m just sort of lost. And I’m not saying that they HAVE to build to anything. If anything, I’d probably prefer they didn’t, because they’ll never come close to the build up to Endgame again. However, they seem insistent on the whole “It’s All Connected” narrative, and it just isn’t strong enough this go ’round.

I have enjoyed the MCU Disney+ shows (that I’ve seen), but I just have not loved anything in theaters for Phase 4. Yeah, I know y’all popped blood vessels when Tobey and Andrew showed up in No Way Home, but I felt that it just helped the rest of that movie coast by on nostalgia than actually having a good plot. An account I follow on TikTok asked folks their ranking of the Phase 4 MCU movies and, while I tend to stay away from rankings, I had to chime in on this one. I’d put it like this:

6. Eternals

5. Black Widow

4. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

3. (Three-way tie): Spider-Man: No Way Home/Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness/Thor: Love and Thunder

2. VACANT

1. VACANT

“But you can’t have a tie, Will!” It’s my ranking. I do what I want. Eternals isn’t as bad as you think it is, but it lacks WOW Factor. Black Widow was fine, but a day late and several hundred million dollars short. Shang-Chi isn’t as good as you remember it. No Way Home got weaker as it pandered to nostalgia. Multiverse of Madness isn’t even about its title character, and Love and Thunder is just too goofy to commit to honest emotional scenes. I take a step back, and look at this list like “Is THIS your MCU?!” in the same cadence as “Is THIS your king?!” It’s funny to me how the MCU was built on B- and C-list heroes because all the A-list had been licensed to other studios, and now that those characters and actors have run their course, we’re promoting the D-list heroes to take their places. All I’m asking is for them to give me something to get EXCITED about. Is that so hard to ask? I don’t even have expectations. I’m not one of those people with conspiracy theories about how mutants will be introduced or anything like that. Just give me a great experience, and I’m in your corner. So far, though, Phase 4 has been very “mid”, as the kids say.

Trailer Park


The Munsters (theaters, coming soon)

Now, I know I’m not the target audience for this, but this looks TERRIBLE. The tone feels off, and it makes the early 90s sitcom The Munsters Today look like The Sopranos. I know a lot of folks are curious about this one, but I know I won’t be seeing it.


I Love My Dad (theaters, Aug 5th; On Demand, Aug 12th)

I know they’re selling this as a “cringe comedy”, and it appears to be the cringiest, but I really want to see it. It’s taking catfishing to a whole new level, and I especially want to know more about the “true story” that it’s supposedly based upon.


Don’t Make Me Go (Amazon Prime Video, July 15th)

I don’t think we give John Cho enough credit as an actor. He’s been popping up over 20 years, but he’s never gotten his flowers. Anyway, he looks really good in this role, and I’m looking forward to seeing this. As a father of daughters (one who happens to be a teenager at the age of 7), I think I can already relate to some of this. This comes out today, and I’m going to need to set aside some time to check it out.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • There are rumors that embattled actor Armie Hammer is currently selling timeshares in the Cayman Islands
  • Daniel Kaluuya revealed that he won’t be in Black Panther: World of Wakanda, and I honestly don’t even think I’ll miss him
  • Spotify has bought musical guessing game Heardle
  • Pluto TV has launched a 24/7 channel for Judge Judy and Wayne Brady’s incarnation of Let’s Make A Deal, with channels for Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! to follow on Aug 1st.
  • TBS cancelled the season 2 premiere of Nasim Pedrad’s Chad hours before it was slated to air, saying that they hope to find a new home for the project.
  • When Dancing with the Stars moves to Disney+, it will be doing so with a new cohost, as Alfonso Ribeiro is joining Tyra Banks on the show.

And now we come to the part where I tell you what had the West Week Ever. Well, as much as I hate when this happens, I’ve got to say that the winner is…nothing. Nothing blew my socks off or changed the tide of pop culture this week, so I’m gonna have to go with “nothing”. Try harder next week, world!

 

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